Name: Elmer-Rico E. Mojica
Degree: Ph.D. Chemistry
Graduation year: 2010
Advisor: Diana Aga/Frank Bright
Thesis title: Molecularly imprinted xerogels for tetracycline: Binding and isolation experiments and computational modeling
Describe the timeline of your professional life since graduation from UB.
After obtaining my doctorate degree in September 2010, I worked for the rest of the year on an NSF project of my advisor, Dr. Aga. By Spring 2011, I worked as adjunct in various colleges in New York City and as a part-time researcher at York College under Dr. Ruel Desamero. By Fall 2011, I got a job as a Lecturer at Pace University while working as adjunct in various colleges around NYC and doing part time research at York College. I have been offered a tenure track Assistant Professor position at Pace University since Fall 2012.
Describe your position and your responsibilities (i.e. What do you do?).
At UB, I worked on an NSF project on the degradation of antibiotics (tetracycline and sulfa) on soil samples. This involved collecting soil samples and treating them with animal manure wastes spiked with radioactive labeled antibiotic standards and monitoring their content within a one month time frame. This lasted for 3 months. I then moved to NYC where I worked for some adjunct jobs in various colleges. I taught in three institutions namely Mercy College, York College and Bronx Community College where I handled lecture and laboratory classes in general chemistry, instrumental analysis and environmental science. I usually spent a day (6 hours) in a week in each college and at least two free days which were devoted to research under Dr. Ruel Desamero. The three days that I have at York College (plus the one day that I have a teaching class) was utilized in assisting the PI in running the group consisting mostly of undergraduate students and in doing research in Biophysics. My knowledge in Analytical Chemistry was enhanced as I learned more on vibrational spectroscopy specifically Raman and IR. These techniques were applied to analyze amyloid formation of amylin based peptides. By Fall semester 2011, my teaching load was added since I became a lecturer at Pace University where I taught General Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry. I still have my adjunct jobs in other colleges and doing part time research at York College. By Fall 2012, when I got the tenure track position, I started to have my own group doing research. I became full time in teaching and doing research at Pace University. I still work in York College from time to time to have access to high end instruments.
What in your experience at UB prepared you the most for your career?
UB prepared me for the academic challenges that I have after completing my degree. It became easier for me to be an adjunct at various colleges here in NYC. This likewise helped me to be more comfortable in research works since I was used to this kind of set-up when I was at UB. I think, I was one of those students who opted to be a teaching assistant during the whole time (except for first and last summer) I was at UB. In addition, I learned to do multitasking when I was at UB. I worked in two research groups (Aga and Bright group) and by the fourth year I worked with a third research group (Autschbach group) to include theoretical/computational applications in my research. I think these experiences made it easier for me to adjust the career that I have at present.
Can you offer a few words of advice for current UB students?
For the present graduate students, please take advantage of every opportunity that you have during your stay at UB. This may be in the form of collaborating with other members of the department or networking with people in and out of the department. Please expand your knowledge and try to gain hands-on experience outside your field of specialization. By doing this, you will be able to see the bigger picture which could improve your specialization and lead to other research opportunities. This will be very helpful in your professional and personal growth.